Cannes Lions 2016: DDB’s Wendy Clark on Creativity and Diversity


Wendy Clark has been President and CEO, DDB North America for just a few months but her message to Cannes Lions attendees was clear as she strives to rework the agency model and put diversity front and center.

“We need to build our agencies to win in the marketplace,” she told Cannes Lions TV after her keynote address this week. “Speed is now the currency of business. Efficiency is its manifestation.”

Clark is an outspoken proponent for diversity in the workplace. “I want us to broaden our aperture,” she said of her goal for DDB. “There’s a very broad marketplace we can recruit from and all this great talent we are not bringing in-house. We must create a culture where people feel they can bring their whole selves to work everyday and do the best work of their lives.”

In her main stage presentation on “Managing the Present and Inventing the Future,” Clark shared how she defines excellence in creative. “Good work makes people react, it makes people feel something.”

As the marketplace has expanded, however, “we have too many clients, too many agencies,” she noted. “The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 brand images every day. ‘More’ cannot be a strategy. Clients too often are inviting themselves into a conversation where they don’t belong. The standard we all have to hold ourselves to is more good, not just more.”

Cannes Lions DDB Wendy ClarkOn the role of data, Clark added, “Our POV on data is that—used successfully and wisely—it makes the creative input that much better.”

As a global agency, she noted that DDB’s strength is not just its people but their outlook: “our true gift is our vantage point—seeing things from a slightly different perspective.”

Clark’s top metric by which she judges herself is the retention and recruitment of talent. “The speed of our trajectory, therefore, will be determined by how we recruit and retain the best people. Talent has no gender, no age. We will not rest until we are as diverse as the market we serve.”

Cannes Lions Wendy Clark 2016 DDB

Clark spoke with us for Q&A earlier this year and outlined where she sees opportunities for DDB.

“I consider DDB to be in the growth business,” she explained. “Our chief mandate is helping DDB’s clients to achieve their ambitions and goals—and many of those ambitions and goals are typically centered on growth. Since we are in the growth business, I don’t believe we can be cynical or negative. We have to be optimistic and positive. We have to see the potential in everything—in brands, in consumers, in the marketplace, in technology, and in startups. We have to look at all of those things optimistically.”

Case in point: DDB’s Better by Half gender equality initiative and parent company Omnicom’s Talent Has No Gender platform.

“I’m always very, very quick to say that the [gender]goal is 50/50,” Clark told brandchannel. “I’m not looking to do anything other than accurately reflect the marketplace. There happens to be 50 percent women and 50 percent men in the world. I want to reflect that gender balance in our business so that we can best serve the marketplace for our clients.”

At Cannes, Clark said that clients want bespoke models, referencing Gandhi’s quote, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Clark added, “Clients are managing a patchwork and that does not work efficiently, so we have to manage that.” She said there is no substitute for doing great work and to find efficiency, disrupt yourself and above all, “Be Courageous. Be Creative. Be Together.”

This article first appeared in

Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +9714 3867728 or mail: or visit

About Author

Comments are closed.